Quality and price are always causes of concern when looking for holiday accommodation, and thanks to technology, we now have more options beyond traditional hotels and lodges. In case you’ve never come across it, Airbnb is a platform that allows people to list their homes to travellers. The owners, or hosts, either let out the entire home, or a room in the home. This gives travellers more options in terms of price, amenities and location.
I’ve been an Airbnb host in Joburg for 5 months now, offering accommodation to the budget-conscious traveller. I’ve earned the title “Superhost”, which means, I have provided exceptional stays to my guests :). There’s more to it but that’s not the point of this blog post lol! Anyway, through my use of Airbnb as both a host and a traveller, there are a lot of useful tips I’ve picked up, and these are some of the things I think you should keep in mind when using the application to book your next accommodation.
1. Check whether you are booking a private room or the entire place
As obvious as this may sound, it’s a common mistake I have experienced with guests. A private room means you are paying for just the room, and not the entire apartment or house. This means, you need to check what other spaces you have access to. For instance, the bathroom might be shared, or the kitchen may be off limits. If you are booking the entire place, then of course, you will have all the space to yourself.
2.Familiarise yourself with the amenities provided
Check if things like air-conditioning, heating, washing and ironing facilities, crockery etc are provided. Also check if things like towels and soap are included. While living in someone’s home, it’s easy to assume that it is included, or that the host will provide it if you request it. They won’t. Be sure that the space has all the things you need before you book. This is particularly important if you’re booking a long stay as you need to pack the right things.
3. Earn travel credit by sharing your code
I’m always keen to save some money, and Airbnb let’s both you and a friend save money when you invite them to use the app. If you sign up for Airbnb using my link, you’ll get R600 off your home booking. Airbnb also offers experiences, and so you’ll earn R225 worth of credit towards an experience worth R726 or more. I earn credit too, so everybody wins!
3. Check the cancellation policy
There are 3 types of cancellation policies on Airbnb.
Flexible – you can cancel for a full refund up to 1 day prior to arrival
Moderate – you can cancel for a full refund up to 5 days prior to arrival
Strict – you can cancel for a full refund within 48hrs of making a booking. A refund of 50% will be issued if you cancel at least 7 days before arrival, given the check-in date is at least 14 days away. There are no refunds for cancellations made within 7 days of check-in.
A host can choose whichever cancellation policy they want, so it is your duty to understand the policy on the property you are booking. I actually had a guest who wanted to cancel his booking once, because he didn’t realise he was booking a private room. But because my cancellation policy is strict, there was no refund. I’ll spare you the details of this “incident”, but all I’ll say is, thank God for the support team at Airbnb!
4. Use the filters and book early
As with anything, the best deals are always snapped up early. Make sure you use the filters on Airbnb to find the best spaces at the best prices. Prices on the app change with demand, so the earlier you can book, the better!
5. Contact your host beforehand
Your host is there to help you make your stay comfortable. Message them beforehand to ask any clarifying questions before you arrive. You really don’t want any surprises on arrival. I like to ask about accessibility to public transport and shops, as well as health and safety facilities.
Use Airbnb when you travel for unique stays and experiences, and save money! Hotels are great, but Airbnb hosts are really going out of their way to provide guests exceptional service and experiences. Give it a go!
Do you use Airbnb when you travel? What was your favourite Airbnb experience?